CAS Faculty Building Reputation for Documentary Film Making

Posted on: July 2, 2013

Elderly InstrumentsOne of the exciting things happening in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences is the ever-increasing number of award-winning documentary films being produced by our faculty and students.

The Media Sandbox brings together an all-star team of seasoned filmmakers that includes:

  • Bob Albers, Sandbox director and TISM senior video specialist
  • Geri Alumit Zeldes, Journalism associate professor
  • Sue Carter, Journalism professor
  • Bob Gould, Journalism broadcasting instructor
  • Troy Hale, Journalism/TISM broadcasting instructor
  • Amol Pavangadkar, senior producer and TISM teaching specialist and
  • Jon Whiting, TISM academic specialist

Each of these individuals and their film credentials merit an article of his or her own and I encourage you to check out the links provided to explore their impressive work. For today though, I want to focus on those events that have occurred just within the past few weeks. Prospective students interested in documentary filmmaking, please take note that these are the caliber of faculty that you would work with on a daily basis at CAS.

Elderly Instruments, All Things Strings, a Media Sandbox production, is now being promoted by the National Education Television Association (NETA). The documentary film was created by Sandbox director Bob Albers and a team of 15 CAS students. WKAR will distribute the film to NETA members in HD/Stereo as of July 27, 2013 through July 26, 2016. NETA serves all public television licensees and educational entities in all 50 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

U.S. v. Narciso, Perez & the Press, created by Geri Alumit Zeldes and a team of journalism students, won an Emmy(r) in the Documentary Cultural Category at the 35th Annual National Association of TV Arts & Sciences, Michigan Chapter, on June 15, 2013. The film reconstructs the investigation and trial of two Filipina nurses accused in the 1970s of poisoning patients in the Veterans Hospital in Ann Arbor.

The Kings of Flint, also produced by Zeldes along with Troy Hale, was just selected by WTTW in Chicago to be a part of its national series, "Local USA." WTTW bought the rights to broadcast a cut of "Kings of Flint" and a new sister film, "Flint River Farm." They will air together in a 30-minute national show. Stay tuned for dates and times. It received a 2012 Best Mini-Doc in Public TV by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters, a Broadcast Education Association (BEA) award and an Emmy(r) nomination.

MSU Space Balloon (working title), was once again the buzz this weekend in the Grand Rapids and Lansing areas. Troy Hale and a group of CAS students launched the second space/weather balloon in a year and this one was successfully retrieved. The balloon reached 105,000 feet and was covered by television stations Fox 17 and WOOD TV. The project is part of a documentary film being produced by MSU's Media Sandbox. The footage to and from space is also being shared with the media and a children's museum.

Check out the full story and video clips at

Wills and Steel (another working title), will debut on WKAR this fall. It was produced and directed by Ultan Guilfoyle for WKAR and reveals how the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, designed by Zaha Hadid, came to be at Michigan State. The 30-minute special takes the viewer from idea, to design, through construction, and the recent museum opening that caught the attention of art lovers around the world.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for what's in the works for this fall. WKAR will also be launching a new series called the Screening Room that will serve as a broadcast showcase for documentaries such as these highlighted in my blog. And the Media Sandbox has several intriguing documentaries in the works covering topics from the illegal trafficking of body parts in Bangladesh, missing moon rocks to capturing artists, athletes and everyday masters of their crafts "in the moment."

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